Thursday, 29 October, 2020

The option of sensing the city

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Second in an illustrated series about place-decoding from the South of France.

How do we decipher this story?

Place Decoding: Moving Beyond the Directed Experience

Sensing the city is a personal experience owned by each of us.  From a legal perspective, it is an urban property right that transcends public and private domains. It is a form of place-decoding that deserves more illustration and attention.

To see and smell the city is an affordable lease, easement or license across space and time, and it is too easily manipulated by other forces, such as intentional design or the accretion of organic forces of growth or decline.

One critical element of place-decoding is understanding who, respectively, are the leaders and followers in the urban experiential adventure.

My ongoing work in France (outlined here) reminds me that this form of place-decoding is critical to each of our experiences, but it is not easy to capture without treating urban places as classrooms for exploration. This may explain why we often choose to institutionalize the path of least resistance (such as yielding to a directed response or championing others’ essays on the zen of walking and biking), rather than foster self-directed efforts to allow each of us to realize our own sensations and experiences.

The Directed Example

In Grasse, Provence, street odors are changeable near the Fragonard parfumerie. Why? Because an Orwellian, directed scent, as illustrated below, dispenses fragrance across a narrow, pedestrian street. Shoppers, caught in post-hypnotic strolls, cannot escape the medieval, odor-masking reality of perfume’s very purpose.

The directed scent

In this case, a deodorant of the street manipulates the observer, externally directing the right to experience described above. The urban observer has no cognitive choice other than to leave, or ignore the smell.

Context Through the Minds’s Eye

In the multi-layered city such as Bastia, Corsica, small pockets of old blend with the new, and lines of sight span the ages and associated technologies.

As shown below, in the two images below, a glance at topography can show either a hill town setting in isolation, a traffic-laden city, or both. One person may see historic urban form up the hill. Another may see a roundabout of automobiles in context, with little regard to the pre-spawl relic above.

The context view

Close but focused

Here, the urban observer has more choice than in the Grasse example to sense for oneself, and more readily understand the mind’s eye.

Summary

I’ve said before that we should pay more attention to the place-receivers of placemaking, through encouraging urban diaries that lead us all to better understand where we live, work and travel between. However appropriate the urbanist purpose, we cannot rest simply with the cutting edge, activist goals of bus and bicycle without a more holistic, experiential point of view.

I believe part of the answer is simply enhancing people’s ability to sense the city. More apps, tools and activities all go without saying; examples include Adelaide, Australia’s well-presented “Picture Adelaide 2040” project, Stage 1 of which centers on gathering 1000 stories from citizens (each with a photo) on how they use their favorite urban places.

But “how-to’s”, such as community classes, meet-ups, school curricula, training of political officials and sensitizing of loan officers is also what I have in mind.

We can urge our political leaders, our planners, our designers and real estate professionals that encouraging people to sense the city deserves a high priority in policies, plans and pro-formas. Better cities will not result from a mandated smell this, or see that mindset.

Rather, better cities are more apt to happen if we first learn how to smell and see, a Place-Decoding 101 class affordable to all.

Coming next:  How walking between towns decodes the elements of place.

Images composed by the author in Grasse, and Bastia, Corsica, France. Click on the image for more detail. © 2009-2014 myurbanistAll Rights Reserved. Do not copy.

Event Reminder: U District forum to discuss open space

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U District Open SpaceA three-part series of community forums to discuss future open space in the U District starts tonight (as we noted last week). Sponsored by the U District Partnership, the forum will explore the types of activities and values that University District residents want for open space. Future forums will take place on October 30th and December 3rd to discuss the topics of physical elements and pathways to success for open space in the University District.

The forum will be held at the Alder Hall Commons on the University of Washington campus. City staff from various departments will be on hand to engage community members and answer questions while the forum will host panelists. Refreshments begin at 6.30pm with the forum running from 7pm to 9pm.

The Urbanist has cancelled its weekly meeting at Roy Street Coffee & Tea for tonight. Instead, readers of The Urbanist are encouraged to attend this U District forum. Feel free to show up between 6pm and 7pm to chat with community members, staff, and other folks affiliated with The Urbanist. Our next working meeting at Roy Street Coffee & Tea will be held on October 14th.

On a related noted, the U District may have a new parklet opening at NE 42nd Street and The Ave in a few short weeks. We expect that this and many other open space ideas will be explored during the forum events.

Bubbly

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Picture 1

 

Two girls are getting on at southbound Dearborn, early college maybe, coming aboard in handfuls, pulling their luggage behind and beside them. Together they form an impression of primary colors, a rush of straps and travel and quickly brushed hair, shoes built for walking. The one is asking for Mount Baker Station, no doubt interested in Sea-Tac.

As they walk down the aisle I ask, “are you about to go on a big adventure, or coming back from one?”
“We just came from a big adventure, Seattle was our adventure!”
“Oh how fantastic!”

They decide to sit up front, continuing the conversation. “Hope you guys had a good time here,” I ask.
“We did!”
“Thanks for bringing the sunshine!”
“And now we’re taking it away!”
“It’s okay, I’m willing to deal!”
The clouds had just returned. The two of them are effervescent, with wide smiles and sparkling eyes, that natural excitement which comes easily to the youthful of any age.

“How long have you been driving a bus?” the second girl asks. They speak together as one, alternately answering or listening; clearly friends for years.
“Seven years,” I reply.
“Oh. that’s a long time.”
“I loooove it.”
“Really!”
“Getting to talk to people all the time, to provide this elemental need of transport, to help peop- you know how when somebody needs help, and you’re able to help them, and they feel great, and you get this altruistic high of well-being?”
“I know exactly!”
“Oh it feels so great, spreading that good energy. Getting to hang out with all these folks I would never ordinarily get to hang out with…. So I see you’re flying out on a Saturday!”
“Yeah,”
“Which I think is great. It’s cheaper for sure,”
“Oh, yeah,”
“Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday seem to be the best. I go to LA a lot, and it’s all about Tuesday through Saturday. Doesn’t cost ANYthing,”
“Why do you go to LA?”
“I have some good friends down there. It’s my hometown. Where are you going back to?”
“Columbus, Ohio,” says the one.
“And I’m going to North Carolina,” says the other.
“Just a hop skip and a jump away!”
“Yeah, shouting distance, you know!”
“North Carolina, excellent. By Durham?”
“Close.” She explains a town I haven’t heard of in the vicinity. “About twenty miles away.”
“I’ve never gone out there.”
“You should come!”
“And Columbus, Ohio, where I have also never been.”
“You should come!” says the other girl, in laughing repetition.
“So many new places to add to my already long list of places to travel! Now, how is it that you two know each other if you’re from completely different places?”
The answer involves particulars of going to school together, one formerly living in Ohio, and so on. They explain the banalities with a bubbly energy we all seem to be building together. You know that sensation, talking to someone new at the party about hardly anything at all, but you’re both so excited.

“I have a question!” I suddenly say.
“Yes!”
“Were people in Seattle friendly?”
“Yes!”
“Oh good. The answer to that question seems to vary dramatically depending on where people are coming from I think.”
“Oh yeah, people were great. well, not everybody, of course. but yeah. You’re friendly!”
“Aw!” Brief pause. “Did you have a favorite thing you saw or did here?”
“Just up the street here, on Rainier, we went to Humble Pie. It was the best! We went there four times in two weeks!”
“Oh my goodness, I’ve been there zero times in fifteen years! Clearly you guys have the jump on me!”
“You’ve gotta go! What’s your favorite thing in Seattle?”

Thinking on my feet, fishing for an answer– “Oh my oh my hmm, that would take too long to answer, there’s just so much! My mind is going crazy just trying to think of an answer!” Pause. They wait for me to come up with something.
“Right here, right now, driving the bus,” I say finally. What else is there, after all, besides the present?
“Really?!?!”
“Yeah, seriously! This is my favorite route.”
“The 7?”
“Yeah.”
“It’s the only one we took.”
“Well, if you were gonna take just one route, this one would be it! It’s the most popular one, and it goes through Columbia City, which is the most diverse zip code in the United States.”
“Oh wow!”
“Yeah, that’s why it’s my favorite.” That and a host of other reasons, but I’ll spare them the details….
“Awesome!”
“So here’s Mount Baker, on the right, and over there well, you can see the stairs,”
“What’s your name?”
“Nathan. And yours?”
“Laura.”
“Azalia,” says the other.
“Cool name!”
“Thanks!”
“Have a really great rest of your shift!”

A Latino man stands and comes up to the front. Baseball hat and black work clothes, a jacket flung over his shoulder. I’m not sure how much English he speaks, but I decide to engage him as well; being silent after all that chatter with the girls would be its own statement, and too easily misinterpreted negatively.

“How’s your night going?”
“Good! How about you?”
“Great. Good people,”
“Yeah, I saw you talking to those nice girls!”
“I like talking to people.”
“I work at a resaurant too,”
“Oh, you understand! It’s the same!”
“Yeah, it’s the same. It makes the day exciting.”
“To hear their stories, listen to all these different lives, be part of it….”
“Yes!”

The solidarity I felt in the short interaction with him was just as satisfying as the chat with the ladies. They were enjoying being privy to something new to them, but Latino and I were sharing in something we both already know we love. Joy, expressed and explored in different ways. I drove away through the dark overhanging trees at Walden, thinking, it really is true. For this moment, right now, being lucky enough to be driving this 7 down Rainier Avenue really is my favorite thing in Seattle. Yes, you can call me crazy!

Filling in the gap: Cycle track now open on the Issaquah-Preston Trail

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Preston Cycle Track
The new Preston Cycle Track, looking west from Preston. The gravel Issaquah-Preston trail picks up at the curve visible in the distance. Photo by the Author.

Earlier this summer, King County Department of Transportation installed a protected bike and pedestrian lane in the rural east of King County. The new facility is along High Point from the eastern end of the Issaquah-Preston Trail to the start of the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail.

The two paths that the cycle track connects are rail-trails. One is paved while the other is soft surface. The trails use disused right-of-way that once formed the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway (also known as the Milwaukee Road). After going bankrupt in 1980, the railroad right-of-way gave way to many other fantastic rail-trails in the state. Some of these include the Cedar River, Snoqualmie Valley, Lake Sammamish, and Burke-Gilman trails, but also the John Wayne Pioneer Trail/Iron Horse State Park.

The Preston-Snoqualmie Trail links the small community of Preston, 6 miles past Issaquah on I-90, to the city of Snoqualmie, 7 miles further along the route. The trail runs primarily through the rural forestlands and crosses some impressive wood trestles, a great way to escape the city. The Issaquah-Preston Trail essentially acts as a a continuation of the Lake Sammamish Trail, which runs along the east bank of its namesake lake, and climbs up through the Issaquah Alps to arrive in Preston–or at least close to it.

Prior to this summer, trail users had to ride on the shoulders of SE High Point Way for the seven-tenths mile trip to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail. But now, this part of the trail is gone, and the shoulders of the road have been converted. On the southside of the road, the shoulder has been widened, which now forms a bike and pedestrian trail protected by reflective plastic bollards. These bollards and added shoulder space creates a much safer space for trail user. In order to accommodate trail users, the shoulder on the north side has been slightly reduced in width.

When I biked through the area in early September, I asked a family riding in the cycle track how they felt about the facilities. They indicated that the new facilities created a safe space for them. Thanks to new smoothing paving, a shoulder completely clear of debris, comfortably wide bicycle lanes, and protection offered by the bollards separating traffic, it’s unsurprising that they had a positive impression. The cycle track crosses High Point Way at its east end with a well-marked crosswalk before linking up to the Issaquah-Preston Trail. A few further improvements could be made though. The Issaquah-Preston Trail remains gravel, mostly smooth, but with some rough spots here and there. The trail shouuld eventually be upgraded to a harder surface. KCDOT could also implement inexpensive, permanent buffers for the cycle track. Permeable curb stops, more solid bollards, or planted boxes could be placed along the cycle track to separate it further and increase safety.

The new cycle track fills in not only a key part of the Issaquah-to-Snoqualmie trails corridor, but also connects to the countywide network of trails, and makes it possible to ride all the way from Fremont to Snoqualmie only using trails and being protected from car traffic along the whole corridor.

Sunday Video: Structural Racism

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The history of racism in cities and development persists today even though red lining and racist covenants on property are no longer legal.

What We’re Reading: A Changing Waterfront

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The Seattle Waterfront on a sunny day by adnamayy on Flickr.
The Seattle Waterfront on a sunny day by adnamayy on Flickr.

This train is delayed: The Seattle Transit Blog has 9 ideas to improve transit. An economic and equity case is made for political support of Sound Transit 3. Capitol Hill Seattle highlights the last run of the Metro 47. The First Hill Streetcar is delayed thanks to the manufacturer, but at least they’ll pay for the delays. Sound Transit has added the Sand Point Crossing to the long-range plan.

London Town: The simple beauty of the UK’s duplexes. Driverless London Underground trains won’t be a reality until at least 2028. A fan-like foot bridge opens in London’s Paddington neighborhood. London is so woody, maybe it should be a national park.

Waterfront bombshells: The seawall project will make some businesses have to close for the next nine months. Meanwhile, Seattle still has a lot of work to do in order to make the Waterfront improvement projects pencil out, and that may mean scaling back project elements.

Urban photography: Meet the Meat Packing District of Manhattan in 1985 and now, it’s a world of change. Awesome “time slices” in cities at dusk.

Global perspectives: We’ve got electric trolleybuses, LA wants electric freight highways… Germany will impose a rent cap on inner-city properties. An argument that the anti-streetcar meme needs to stop, don’t make the “perfect” be the enemy of the “good”. Map the political protest strife in Hong Kong right now. The fantasy of future cities can make for great artwork. Cities all across the US are quite divided–nothing new there–but Richard Florida breaks it down for us. How to create shared use streets for families in mind. Seven myths about the new urbanism revolution. A climate change continues to take hold and cities grow, we’ll need to become more sustainable water-wise. Maybe public signage needs to be more fun, even a bit more functional.

Changes here: Seattle Bike Blog outlines options for improving the pedestrian and bicycle experience across the Ballard Bridge. A new multi-use trail in Arboretum will give the Central District its own “Green Lake”. Another pot shop opens in Seattle in the Central District, say “hello” to Uncle Ike’s. SDOT is planning a revised Dexter Avenue from Denny Way to Mercer Street, now with full protected bike lanes.

Tear down this bridge: Dallas could be investing in another useless highway project for the low, low price of $1.5 billion. Highways could be increasing your blood pressure and making you unhealthy.What roads would be like if they were like bike lanes. Cities across the country are rethinking what they should do with highwaysCar commuting is still king in the US, but it is dropping. Sadly, drivers do get away with murder because of bad policies, not laws.

Use the land: Sightline profiles inclusionary zoning versus exclusionary zoning and says the exclusionary zoning is the real problem. On a related note, developers are suing the City of Seattle in Federal Court over incentive zoning rules. An infographic of every skyscraper in the works for Seattle. Microhousing gets the breaks put on it.

Madison Street BRT open house

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On Tuesday, September 30th, SDOT held the first Open House meeting to discuss the Madison Street Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project.

Madison Street Corridor OverviewThe Madison Street Corridor had previously been identified in the Seattle Transit Master Plan as one of the main transit corridors in the city that should be upgraded to High Capacity Transit service. Due to the topography of the route, normal adhesion rail based-options were ruled out and Electric Trolley Bus-based BRT was chosen as the preferred transit mode for this study.

After a brief transit-affirming speech by City Councilman Tom Rasmussen who stated his full support for the construction of a “true BRT line” for the city, the lead for this project, Maria Koengeter, introduced the study.

The open house is the beginning of a yearlong study of the corridor and the overall purpose of the meeting was to engage the community to introduce the project as well as to begin the discussion of what the overall needs and goals of the project are.

The estimated capital cost for this BRT line is approximately $87 million, and the City of Seattle has allocated $1 million for this study.

Ms. Koengeter outlined SDOT’s goals for the study as:

  1. Make transit throughout the Madison Corridor more reliable
  2. Create a better transit experience through improved bus stops and amenities such as real-time signage, off-board payment, etc.
  3. Enhance pedestrian connections–make accessing the buses easier, safer, and better
  4. Identify/plan for a parallel bicycle corridor
  5. Improve the general streetscape along the corridor making Madison more pleasant for pedestrians and local residents

The timeline for the study has been set as follows:

  • Determine the needs and goals of the project
  • Evaluate existing conditions of the corridor
  • Evaluate the options and develop two alternative designs
  • Evaluate the design alternatives and perform technical analysis
  • Determine the preferred alternative and bring it to 10% design level
  • Identify and source funding for the preferred alternative and implement the plan

Further public outreach sessions have been tentatively scheduled for November and December this year, and in February and June of 2015.

Background information for bikes and pedestrians.
Background information for bikes and pedestrians.

SDOT and the City are also making sure that this project follows NACTO’s complete streets guidelines that require support for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and transit–not just automobiles. Due to the narrow width of Madison Street, the bicycle component of the project will be off-loaded to an adjacent street, which will be determined at a later date.

In addition to the transit and right-of-way changes, the City is also interested in improving the general streetscape of the corridor. This includes improvements to sidewalks, landscaping, and public safety as well as connections to Madison from neighboring streets. SDOT indicated that many improvements to the corridor that can be phased in over the duration of the study. This may include the removal of on-street parking to the addition of lighting and trashcans at existing bus stops.

Through discussion with many of the representatives from SDOT and their consultants at the meeting, it was clear that SDOT and the City of Seattle are eager to design and construct this project correctly. There is a strong desire to make this line function as a true BRT line (with all expected amenities such a line provides) and not as an “Enhanced Bus Service” line such as the existing RapidRide lines.

Stickies for Madison

The representatives from SDOT are factoring in the topography of the route in their study. The route will have closer-than-normal stops (for BRT) and will most likely utilize 40’-45’ Trolley Buses due to clearance issues at the interface between the flat avenue crossings and the hill. The western terminus of the line will be selected as part of the seawall and waterfront redevelopment project. The intention is to have a direct connection to the ferry dock. The eastern terminus of the line is yet to be determined. Currently, the route is being studied from Coleman Dock at the waterfront to at least 23rd Avenue, however, there was a lot of interest in having SDOT look at extending the line all the way to MLK & the Madison Valley Business District.

Finally, the representatives from SDOT seemed to be surprised at the general amount of opposition expressed towards on-street parking on Madison Street, and most seemed to agree that the removal of the parking could be an easy fix to improve service immediately.

The open house had a decent turnout from the public, especially the First Hill Residential and Business communities and the local Hospitals. SDOT’s representatives were knowledgeable about the area and seemed genuinely interested in the possibilities going forward. Many details such as dedicated bus lanes (curb or center lane), traffic signal priority, what happens to the Metro Route 12, etc. have yet to be discussed. However, SDOT is planning at least four more public outreach sessions over the course of the study and their ongoing analysis of the corridor will inform the options they will present to the public.

Whether in the end a true BRT line is built, or simply existing service is enhanced, the attention being finally given to this highly-strained transit corridor is welcome.

A new parklet for the U District, fundraising begins

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Future U District Parklet site spray painted on the ground.
Future U District Parklet site spray painted on the ground.

Freshly painted parklet goodness, that’s what we spotted a few weeks ago. We got curious about these alien markings in the street and decided to checked out the fading, bluish website link. And, we were delighted to find out that much more is in store for these parking spaces than just the painted etchings of a fantasy parklet. The folks at U District Square have a plan for this slice of NE 43rd Street. Their vision is a transformation of this northern stub of NE 43rd Street into an open space for pedestrian and bicyclists. A permanent parklet installation will be the centerpiece of this street makeover.

We recently spent some time to meet up with Cory Crocker, a local architect and neighborhood leader, who has been spearheading the effort on the parklet project. Crocker told us that community members, planning and architecture students, and neighborhood businesses have been working diligently on the parklet project. Earlier this year, the U District Parklet was one of 13 parklet project proposals chosen by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) for the 2014 pilot project program. A few loose ends like funding, last minute project modifications, and final permit approvals remain before the parklet project can break ground; but the budget has been set, agreements made, and suppliers picked.

The vision for a parklet comes from a desire to provide a key gathering space in the heart of the University District. Given the immediate proximity to the heavily traveled and much beloved University Way corridor (aka The Ave), the parklet will help realize a portion of this big community goal. Crocker described NE 43rd Street as a shared space for pedestrians, parklet-goers, and bicyclists alike. To achieve this, Crocker says that SDOT has agreed to allow the U District Square backers to close the entire northern half of NE 43rd Street from motorized traffic. The street closure would extend from The Ave to the mid-block alleyway just west of The Ave. This space would then be reserved for the parklet, Pronto! Cycle Share docking station, and additional open space.

Local Häagen-Dazs owner, Lois, has thrown huge support behind the project. As an early backer, she has proudly advertised the project to patrons at her store while also offering generous Kickstarter thank-you gifts to project donors. Lois sees the parklet as a way to bring vitality and new patrons to her street and the wider neighborhood. But she’s not the only shop owner that supports the project, others like Doug of Bulldog News and David of the Ugly Mug Cafe do, too. Businesses on NE 43rd Street like Cedars and Kai’s have been heavily impacted by the temporary street closure.

Sound Transit broke ground on the University District subway station last December. And ever since, NE 43rd Street and Brooklyn Avenue NE have undergone intermittent street and sidewalk closures as well as street rechannelizations. For the time being, through-traffic from Brooklyn Avenue NE to The Ave via NE 43rd Street is closed. Pedestrians and cyclists are still able to access this area despite the construction-related closures to car traffic, a sidewalk on the south side of NE 43rd Street remains fully open. On-street parking also remains along the NE 43rd Street stub, and northbound traffic may pass through the mid-block alleyway. Sound Transit has indicated that NE 43rd Street may reopen to one-way traffic in February. Needless to say, this has created a less-than-desirable situation for businesses and local patrons alike.

U District Parklet vizualization looking west.
U District Parklet vizualization looking west.

The parklet design is very modern with sleek lines, flashy metals, and bold colors. Bar seating, benches, planters, and tables will be provided to give people a place to sit, eat, read, and watch passersby. It is anticipated that the parklet will measure about 8 feet wide by 30 feet long (240 square feet). The original design was a bit more permeable than the one above, but it had to be revised to make the best use of limited space options. On sunny days, umbrellas will be rolled out to give some measure of shade to parklet users. Local businesses have agreed to help ensure that umbrellas are taken down after hours and stored in order to discourage overnight camping at the parklet. Further revisions to parklet design may be required as needed to accommodate unobstructed spaces between the parklet and the cycle share docking stations as well as the crosswalk.

But this space isn’t just for the parklet. As Crocker notes, it’s just one piece in a larger effort for a shared open space. Bicycling will be a big draw. Pronto! Cycle Share has already placed a docking station on the north side of NE 43rd Street right in front of Kai’s restaurant. Necessarily, this will translate into a lot of foot traffic back and forth through the space. The Pronto! docking station location is a hotspot for tons of spontaneous trips to and from the University District. Bicyclists could conceivably choose to visit other establishments on or near The Ave while others may choose to walk home or go to University of Washington.

New Pronto! Cycle Share docking station.
New Pronto! Cycle Share docking station.

To help support the parklet and bike share station, the north half of NE 43rd Street will be closed to traffic. SDOT and the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) have tentatively agreed upon ways that the U District Square group can do this. Two or three planter boxes will be placed parallel to the crosswalk along The Ave. These planter boxes will effectively run from the north sidewalk to the street centerline. The planter boxes are a creative way to demarcate the pedestrian-oriented space while providing plenty of permeability. At least 20 feet of street width must be maintained for fire access, and SFD says that since the planter boxes are semi-permeable, they pose no problem for fire trucks. Crocker hopes that additional planter boxes will also be placed along the alleyway and the street centerline to spruce up the street and make it safer. Of course, that is dependent upon surplus money not yet budgeted for.

SDOT has also indicated that they are supportive of painting the street in a variety of colors and designs to clearly mark the northern half of the street. Four on-street parking spaces would be left on the south side of the street while through traffic will have a narrow lane to flow through when NE 43rd Street reopens to one-way traffic, and a loading zone for deliveries would be moved in front of Flowers–a favorite culinary institution of the neighborhood.

U District Square is in the midst of its Kickstarter campaign to raise $6,000 by October 23rd, and has produced an elegant video to promote their project (see blow). $8,000 have already been secured in the form of a grant from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. Once U District Square achieves its Kickstarter fundraising goal, Crocker and project organizers will be working with local volunteers to construct the parklet at weekend installation parties. They expect to open the parklet toward the end of October or early November. But that can’t happen without support by volunteers and donors (which we hope you can be).

The parklet, bike share docking station, and initial pedestrian-oriented open space may just be the beginning of an even larger public space in the future near the University District subway station. It doesn’t take much to imagine a future festival street or public park in the street. Street fairs are already a common feature annually in the University District and a weekly farmers market closes two blocks of The Ave near the University Heights Community Center. That leads us to a series of upcoming community forums on open space in the University District.

As Scott noted yesterday, there will be a three-part series of community forums to discuss future open space. The first in this series will be Tuesday evening (October 7th) to explore the types of activities and values that University District residents want for open space. The forum will be held at the Alder Hall Commons on the University of Washington campus. The event is sponsored by the U District Partnership with city department staff on hand for it. Refreshments begin at 6.30pm with the forum running from 7pm to 9pm. Future forums will take place on October 30th and December 3rd to discuss the topics of physical elements and pathways to success for open space in the University District.